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CHEM103 Introduction to Chemistry , CHEM105 Foundations of Chemistry

Unit rationale, description and aim

The science of chemistry is the foundation upon which many innovations in industry and breakthroughs in scientific research arise. To progress towards a career as a biomedical professional, students require a sound background in the basic chemical concepts that are covered in this unit. 

This unit introduces the foundation principles of chemistry, which are essential for the further study of the chemical, biological and environmental sciences. Topics taught include atomic structure, the elements, molecules, compounds, chemical bonding, chemical reactions, stoichiometry, chemical equilibrium, acids, bases, pH, buffers and radioactivity. Students will also develop laboratory skills through a comprehensive practical component.

The aim of this unit is to form the foundation for subsequent chemistry units, providing knowledge of basic chemistry principles and assimilation of their significance in biological contextS, through scenario-based problems and laboratory experiments.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Describe key chemical concepts associated with matter, its structure, interactions and classificationGC1, GC2, GC3, GC8
LO2Demonstrate proficiency in writing chemical formulae and chemical reactionsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC8
LO3Appraise the influence and significance of chemistry in biological contextGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8
LO4Demonstrate practical chemistry skills and perform relevant laboratory tasks safely and effectivelyGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8


Topics will include:

  • Matter and measurement
  • Atomic structure and Periodic Table
  • Chemical bonding, structure and properties
  • Chemical reactions and stoichiometry
  • Chemical equilibrium
  • Solutions
  • Gases
  • Acids and bases
  • Radioactivity

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Inquiry-based strategies have been chosen to best promote active learning so that all students, including those who have little or no previous chemistry education, receive appropriate support and guidance from teaching staff.

Workshops involve work on weekly question sets and are designed so that staff can provide regular guidance and feedback to students on application of content knowledge.

In the laboratory, students will undertake group and individual practical experiments related to the relevant theoretical content. These practical classes encourage engagement with peers and development of individual laboratory skills and practical connections to the lecture and tutorial content.

Weekly classes are supported by online resources and review questions, which are provided to consolidate knowledge and reinforce key concepts from the learning material.

Further to this, to ensure students are ready to transition from the Diploma and articulate into the second year of undergraduate study, transition pedagogies will be incorporated into the unit as the key point of differentiation from the standard unit. This focuses on an active and engaging approach to learning and teaching practices, and a scaffolded approach to the delivery of curriculum to enhance student learning in a supportive environment. This will ensure that students develop foundation level discipline-based knowledge, skills and attributes, and simultaneously the academic competencies required of students to succeed in this unit.

Assessment strategy and rationale

This unit aims to provide students with a foundational understanding of basic chemistry concepts and techniques, to be built upon in subsequent chemistry units. A hurdle task, i.e. a bridging course provided early into the semester, prepares students for initial unit content and provides a measure of assumed knowledge upon commencing the unit. 

The intra-semester quizzes assess students’ engagement and understanding of the learning material. Students are supported with weekly lecture, workshop and practical sessions and revision questions. Communication with lecturing staff is encouraged to help clarify unclear content, provide regular opportunities for feedback and assist reflection on the teaching material.

Practical assessment tasks will appraise students’ laboratory skills as well as their competence when collecting and evaluating data related to their practical tasks.

The final exam assesses understanding of the learning material from all content areas. Having been provided with feedback from the earlier assessment tasks, students are expected to demonstrate achievement of unit learning objectives.

In order to successfully complete this unit, students need to complete and submit three graded assessment tasks. In addition to this, students must obtain an aggregate mark of greater than 50% over these three assessment tasks.

Strategies aligned with transition pedagogies will be utilised to facilitate successful completion of the unit assessment tasks. For each assessment, there will be the incorporation of developmentally staged tasks with a focus on a progressive approach to learning. This will be achieved through activities, including regular feedback, particularly early in the unit of study to support their learning; strategies to develop and understand discipline-specific concepts and terminology; in-class practice tasks with integrated feedback; and greater peer-to-peer collaboration. 

In order to pass this unit students must demonstrate achievement of all learning outcomes.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Hurdle task: Bridging Course

To ensure students have adequate basic chemistry understanding necessary for commencing the unit.



Assessment 1: Semester Quizzes

The semester quizzes are short tests to assess unit content periodically through the semester. Feedback is provided quickly, allowing students to gauge their progress, and to seek assistance if needed.


LO4, LO1, LO2, LO3

Assessment 2: Practical Assessments

The practical assessment allows students an opportunity to display their understanding of practical chemistry techniques, related to practical classes in which they have participated.



Assessment 3: Final Examination

The final exam assesses understanding of the material from all content areas.


LO1, LO2, LO3

Representative texts and references

Bettelheim, F. A., Brown, W.H., Campbell, M. K., Farrell, S., and Torres, O.J., (2019). Introduction to General, Organic and Biochemistry (12th ed). Thomson Brook/Cole Publishers.

Blackman A.B., Bottle S., Schmid S., Mocerino M and Wille U. (2022). Chemistry (5th ed.). John Wiley & Sons Australia Ltd.

Brown T.L., LeMay H.E., Burston B.E., Murphy C., Woodward P., Langford S., Sagatys D. and George A. (2021). Chemistry: The Central Science (15th ed.). Pearson Education, Inc.

Kotz, J.C., Treichel P.M. and Townsend J.R. (2019) Chemistry and Chemical Reactivity (10th ed.). Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning.

Zumdahl, S.S. and DeCoste, D. (2019). Introductory Chemistry: A Foundation (9th ed.). Cengage Learning, Inc.

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